The Laboratory of Exercise and Sports Nutrition (LESN) is housed in the Science Research Laboratory (SRL 1.146) and equipped with most up-to-date Multiplex System (BioPlex 200) and Flow Cytomter (BD Accuri C6) to analyze inflammatory cytokines and immune cells from human and animal biological samples.


The lab is also used to perform exercise testing with three cycle ergometers and one treadmill.

LESN is dedicated to exploring the health benefits of nutritional supplementation (e.g. phytochemicals) on oxidative stress and inflammation in sports exercise and chronic diseases.

Tianou Zhang, Ph.D.


Tianou Zhang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Research Projects

The Laboratory of Exercise and Sports Nutrition is the site of several research projects. Faculty, undergraduate and graduate students all participate in the research.

Human Performance Project

vo2-max-test.jpgThe purpose of this preliminary study is to explore innovative invasive and non-invasive biomarkers to predict endurance and power, which can be used as indicators for sports performance in various athletes. 

​UTSA SRA-RIG Grant: Precision Medicine in Human Performance: Exploring Innovative Biomarkers to Predict Aerobic Endurance and Muscular Strength in College Athletes (summer and fall, 2022) $5,000, PI.




Oat Avenanthramides and Eccentric Exercise Project

oat-avenanthramides-and-eccentric-exercise-project.pngInvestigate the bioavailability, health benefits and potential molecular mechanisms of phytochemicals (e.g. oat Avenanthramides) supplementation in sports and exercise induced muscle injury and inflammation (e.g. eccentric exercise) to improve skeletal muscle health and sports performance.​

COEHD Faculty Mentoring Award, UTSA: Formulation and Evaluation of Muscle Targeted Nanoparticles Encapsulating Oat Avenanthramides (AVA); 12/2019-2020; Amount: $6,000 Role: PI​

UTSA-INTRA: Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Effects of Oat Avenanthramides (AVA) Supplementation on Young Women and Men after Downhill Running; 9/2019-8/2020; Amount: $5,000; Role: PI

Healthy Aging Projects

senior-study-1.jpgThe purpose of the healthy aging projects is to investigate the role of nutritional supplementation and exercise/physical activity in aged population to improve muscle health and physical functions for better performance.​

UTSA-INTRA: The Effects of Nicotinamide Riboside Supplementation and Exercise Training on Body Composition and Physical Performance in Older Adults with Sarcopenic Obesity; 10/1/2021-08/31/2022; Amount: $5,000, Role: PI ​

UTSA-HCAP Transdisciplinary Team Grant: Profiling the Changes Associated with Healthy Aging at The Molecular, Cellular and Organism Level After Exposure to A 12-Week Five Animal Frolics, Chinese Qigong Mind-Body Exercise Program: A Pilot Study; 5/14/2021-present; Amount: $10,000; Role: Co-I; PI; Zenong Yin​

NIH-R01: A Technological Intervention to Improve Nutrition and Physical Activity among Older Adult Congregate Meal Participants during COVID-19; 7/2021-6/2024; Amount: $1,347,364; Role: Co-I; PI: Sarah Ullevig.​

Olive Oil, Exercise Training and Health Project

olive-oil-study.jpgThe purpose of the study is to explore the health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and Exercise Training in high-fat diet fed rats.​

Texas Tech University, College of Human Sciences- “Come n’ Go” grant: Healthy fats that fight body fats; 2022 summer; Amount: $5,000 Role: Co-I PI: Yujiao Zu (TTU)​
Investigators: Yujiao Zu (TTU Nutrition), Naima Moustaid-Moussa (TTU Nutrition), Tianou Zhang (UTSA Kinesiology).




Bioactive Compounds and Muscle Atrophy Project

bioactive-compounds-and-muscle-atrophy-project-1.pngThe purpose of the study is to explore the anti-inflammatory and anti-atrophic effects of potential phytochemicals (e.g. Oleocanthal/Oleacein in extra virgin olive oil, Oat Avenanthramides) in skeletal muscle cells and osteoarthritic chondrocytes​

UTSA-HCAP Pilot Grant: Bioactive Compound in Extra Virgin Olive Oil Protects Against Inflammation-induced Muscle Atrophy in Skeletal Muscle Cells; 5/14/2021-present; Amount: $5,000; Role: PI​

UTSA-IRM Pilot Grant Program: Aloe Vera scaffold use for reconditioning of diseased female human osteoarthritic chondrocytes for reduced inflammation and enhanced articular cartilage production; 5/20/2021-present; Amount: $15,000; Role: Co-PI; PI: Nehal Abu-Lail


Research Opportunities

Research opportunities may be available to qualified and well-motivated undergraduate and graduate students. The undergraduate students may earn course-credits through research opportunities (KIN4913 Independent Study, KIN4933 Practicum in Kinesiology Research). The Master’s students may work on a thesis project under the direction of a Kinesiology faculty member. Funding may also be available to assist the research work of undergraduate and graduate students. For more information please contact the laboratory supervising faculty.